The Bombay High Court at Goa on Friday held that Goa Marriott Resort cannot be given a special status and rejected the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority’s (GCZMA) second report that ruled out any Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations by the hotel at Miramar.
A Division Bench comprising Justices N.M. Jamdar and Prithviraj Chavan also asked the hotel to ensure that it does not obstruct public access to the beach and ordered the State government to take measures to make the path to the beach accessible. The case is being fought by environmental organisation Goa Foundation for over two decades.
The court observed that “the government authorities unduly favoured the hotel by inventing a new set of criteria to determine the high tide line (HTL) and dropped all action against it for illegal constructions”. On the issue of HTL, the High Court blamed GCZMA for making the issue complex. “The high tide line will have to be drawn as per law, and it is not for the authorities to invent a new set of rules and criteria for a single construction. The hotel cannot enjoy a special status,” said the court.
The order said GCZMA had accepted the second report favouring the hotel by introducing the concept of soil erosion to determine HTL of 1991. The first report prepared by the planning authorities had also concluded that there was no violation by the hotel, which was rejected by a Division Bench of the High Court earlier.
The High Court has now asked the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management to complete the task of identifying the HTL within four months and prepare a report. Further, it directed the authorities, including the State government, to act on the report within four weeks after receiving it and take action against the hotel if it is found to have carried out construction in violation of CRZ rules.
Simultaneously, the court has directed the hotel and government to provide necessary documents in the case and ordered that the violation will be viewed seriously and treated as contempt of the court.